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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 18:24 GMT
Radiohead: The right frequency
Radiohead
Radiohead: Grammy winners in 2001
Radiohead have emerged as serious contenders to The Beatles' hold on the top of the critics' favourite albums lists.

After four album releases the Oxford band have matured into their roles of musical pioneers, cutting themselves off from the mainland of British rock and pop.

Amnesiac facts
Released June 2001
The band's fifth album
Entered UK chart at number one
Entered US chart at number two
Features guest appearance from Humphrey Lyttleton
"A minimalist electronica album from another planet" - Washington Post
"We are trying to find a midpoint between the worlds of rock and electronica" - Thom Yorke
In the process of redefining themselves they have also managed to alienate a number of fans they seduced with earlier releases.

Amnesiac, like last year's Kid A, has more than a few passing nods to jazz, classical and 1970s electronic music and confounded many critics who expected the band to capitalise on the enormous success of the band's third album OK Computer.

But where OK Computer was melodic, Amnesiac and Kid A were atonal, and where it was linear, Amnesiac and Kid A were disparate.

The band members themselves have let criticism and consternation wash over them, much as they have done since they first emerged out of, but very much part of, the power chords of the Britpop scene of the 1990s.


To me, it seems a little bit sad and pathetic to just rely on a guitar and a voice forever more

Thom Yorke
Radiohead
Radiohead "warrant watching" said Rolling Stone magazine in 1993.

But Britain was slower to catch on. The NME - possibly letting Radiohead's public school background blind them - described the group as a "lily-livered excuse for a rock band".

The band deny they are middle class although they met as school boys at Abingdon school in the Oxford suburbs.

'Oiks'

Oxford, lead singer Thom Yorke has said, is "full of the most obnoxious, self-indulgent, self-righteous oiks.

Thom Yorke
Thom Yorke: Outspoken and outrageously talented
"The middle-class thing has never been relevant."

Like many seminal bands and artists their influences encompass art, classical music and jazz, pop and rock and roll.

The other members of the band - Phil Selway, Ed O'Brien, Johnny and Colin Greenwood - seem happy to accept the attention that is focused upon Yorke.

"We're like the UN. And I'm America," Yorke once said of the band's working practices.

Grunge-tinged

The band formed in school but fame was put on hold while they finished their education.

They finally regrouped in Oxford in the summer of 1991 and recorded two demos, clinching a deal with EMI Records and changed their name to Radiohead (after a Talking Heads song) from On A Friday.

Prove Yourself, from the Drill EP, was voted Gary Davies' Happening Track Of The Week on BBC Radio 1.

The bands first album Pablo Honey was patchy at best, and took off in America thanks to the grunge-tinged track Creep, which was much played on college radio.

It was not until The Bends was released in 1995 that the rest of the world, including the UK, really woke up to Radiohead.

Grammys

They were nominated as best band at the Brits, but lost out to Blur.

The album promised that an unusual talent had arrived on the scene and two years later the band delivered on that promise.

Their third album, OK Computer, garnered almost universally ecstatic reviews.

It was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Award for Album Of The Year and won the 1998 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.

OK Computer
The album OK Computer received ecstatic reviews
But the promotional work and endless touring took its toll on the band, especially lead singer Thom Yorke.

The band was determined that the next album, Kid A, would be altogether less commercial.

Kid A was described in some quarters as a "commercial suicide note" but the band defied the doomsayers when the record entered the UK and US charts at number one.

Amnesiac

The album picked up a Grammy award for best alternative music album, cementing their position on the other side of the Atlantic.

Amnesiac, a fifth album, was recorded during the same sessions which resulted in Kid A and continued in the same vein as Kid A, disappointing some fans but thrilling others.

"It is a combination of like, more conventional, perhaps, but also more dissonant stuff," said Colin Greenwood in a recent interview.

He added: "But it continues on from Kid A. It was all done in the same recording period. It is all a whole."

See also:

01 Jun 01 | Reviews
Radiohead's peculiar perfection
04 Jun 01 | Reviews
Amnesiac: Your views
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Jazz legend joins Radiohead
08 Jul 01 | Music
Radiohead dazzle home crowd
10 Jun 01 | Music
Radiohead album topples Shaggy
14 Jun 01 | Music
US success for Radiohead
05 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Radiohead drawn into South Park
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